CSX buys 15-acre brownfield site in McKeesport

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CSX Corp. is making another investment in Allegheny County with the purchase of a 15-acre brownfield site in McKeesport.

The transportation company, which operates 21,000 miles of track in the United States and Canada, acquired the tract for $300,000 from the county's redevelopment authority last month.

The land, just east of the Mc-Keesport-Duquesne Bridge near the south shore of the Monongahela River, was the location of Firth Sterling specialty steel company. Its customers included razor-blade maker Gillette and cutlery manufacturers, according to Dan Piesik. He is a retired shop teacher from Elizabeth Township who has studied the company's history.

The county acquired the site in 2004. Environmental cleanup cost about $2 million, according to Dennis Davin, the county's director of economic development. Most of the money for the remediation efforts came from federal and state sources. As a longtime industrial site, the land had been contaminated with multiple hazardous materials, including PCPs, arsenic, lead and asbestos.

The county-led cleanup effort also ensured that no pollutants would leech into the nearby river.

The tract is between two sets of CSX railroad tracks.

The company has not yet decided what use it will make of the land, which already is bordered by railroad operations.

The sale to CSX contains provisions that limit future heavy industrial use of the reclaimed land, Mr. Davin said. The site could be used for warehouses, rest facilities for workers or a laydown yard, where railroad equipment, freight or supplies could be stored.

The CSX purchase of the land in McKeesport represents the company's second major local announcement. In October the company revealed plans to construct a $50 million intermodal freight center in McKees Rocks. The center will provide a transfer point for freight being moved between trucks and rail cars. The site, the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard, is about 15 miles downriver from McKeesport.

The CSX freight center in McKees Rocks will be part of its National Gateway project, an $850 million public-private partnership to create a rail corridor for double-stack trains.

Mr. Davin estimated that the freight center would create between 60 and 100 permanent jobs. Its presence also would encourage spinoff growth in the area around Pittsburgh International Airport, he said.

The planned transfer facility would support development of warehouse, distribution and light-manufacturing businesses that rely on trains and trucks to move their raw materials and finished goods.

"This is a really exciting development for the region," Mr. Davin said. "This is a coup for Allegheny County."

Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 724-772-0184.

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